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Turkey will pursue its Russian air defense purchase, says Ankara

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - AUGUST 24: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (L) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (R) hold joint press conference after their meeting in Moscow, Russia on August 24, 2018. AFP PHOTO

Turkey will honor its air defense deal with Russia, Ankara said on Friday after four US senators introduced a bill to ban the planned delivery of F-35 fighter jets if Turkey ignored US opposition and accepted the S-400 system, Reuters reported.

“We have agreed with Russia in the end and signed an agreement. This agreement is valid [and] we are discussing when the delivery will be,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said following a meeting with his Russian counterpart.

“This agreement is a done deal,” Çavuşoğlu said, reiterating the remarks of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The US senators on Thursday introduced a bipartisan bill to prohibit the transfer of F-35 aircraft from the United States to Turkey until the US government certifies that Ankara will not take delivery of the Russian S-400 system, a statement on the move said.

Turkey has been receiving contradictory statements from the United States, Çavuşoğlu said, adding that Ankara has met all its obligations related to the F-35s, which are made by Lockheed Martin Corp.

Turkey is a production partner in the trillion-dollar F-35 fighter jet program, but the United States, a NATO ally, has opposed its purchase of Russian system, which could compromise the security of the aircraft.

Turkey had no intention of selling the S-400s to another country, Çavuşoğlu said.

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